NAIDOC 2021: Heal Country, Heal Nation – by Rebecca Hyland

In 2021 the theme for NAIDOC Week (4-11 July) is – Heal Country, Heal our Nation. It’s a call for all Australians to protect our land and cultural heritage.  Here, Rebecca Hyland, Proud Indigenous Advocate, Kamilaroi Woman and Principal Indigenous Engagement at IAG, shares what the theme means for her this year. And how her organisation honour it through their RAP.

I’m a proud Kamilaroi woman, currently living on the Darkinjung lands. I come from a big family, and fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by mob and on Country.

My Grandfather and Grandmother were very important to me. My Grandfather taught me as one of the older grandchildren about culture and kinship which instilled a sense of responsibility within me in which I hold strong today. My Grandmother was the best cook and the kindest and most loving person I have ever met; she would bake for everyone on the mission and make sure that absolutely no body went hungry! Together they raised eight children on the Caroona mission, also known as Walhallow.

My connection to Country, it heals me. It’s a calling, a calling when you know it’s time to go home, time to get back on Country, she calls me home when she knows I need healing, she calls me home when some else needs healing and she calls me home when together we need each other to connect spiritually, emotionally, physically.

My Grandfather dedicated his life to caring for the land, he taught me how the land cares for me, and we care for her and about how she sends us messages and we must be still, and we must listen. Country is within me while she is surrounding me, guiding me and my children.

Our Elders have been calling for action to recognise past injustices and to work together to resolve many injustices that still impact the lives of our people. Organisations have an important role to play in being the catalyst to action through speaking up, taking a public stance on matters that impact our peoples, our land and our communities and by making commitment to generate awareness, acknowledgement and protection of our land now and for our future generations.

The devastation of natural disasters, like the recent bushfires and droughts have such pained impacts on land, animals and communities all across Australia. Traditional practices have proven protection for centuries and recognition and implementation of our traditional knowledges and practices is now critical.

I am proud to be working at IAG, our purpose at IAG is to make your world a safer place. We recognise that our role extends beyond our core responsibilities to customers and shareholders and our aim is to have a positive influence on all the communities we serve.

We have used our voice to stand beside our First Nations peoples through the Uluru Statement of the Heart and through our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), we search for innovative solutions to address climate change and disaster resilience with First Nations peoples. We are committed to our ongoing work with First Nations peoples to address the complex challenges and issues that affect the land and affect our communities.

This NAIDOC Week, I encourage you to work with First Nations peoples to heal country as part of your organisations RAP commitments and as part of your organisation strategy.

Read more DCA research on the topic:

Gari Yala (Speak the Truth): Centreing the experiences of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians at work